Fermented ginger carrots

September 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm (Root vegetables, unrated, Website / blog)

Jessica and I had a “fermenting afternoon” last week in which we made sauerkraut, kim chee, and these lacto-fermented ginger carrots.  I was skeptical about the carrots for some reason, but ended up loving them.  The carrots are not particularly sweet nor are they particularly gingery, but they add a nice crunch, a bit of salt, and a hit of brightness (both colorwise and flavorwise) to whatever you eat them with.  They only ferment for three days, so they’re not particularly funky tasting, just very slightly acidic / vinegar-y / pickle-y.  And they are quite versatile.  They seem to go well with everything.  Okay, maybe not oatmeal.  But if it was a savory oatmeal made with miso and scallions and sesame seeds …

A number of the comments underneath the recipe say that they recommend mincing the ginger instead of grating it, so we used the food-processor blade to chop up the ginger, then used the coarse grating blade to grate the carrots.  Note that we used quite a bit more ginger than the recipe called for, and still the final product wasn’t that ginger-y. I think chopping the ginger even more coarsely might be a good idea, as it was really only when I bit into a piece of ginger that I got a nice ginger hit, and when the ginger pieces are small it’s rare that you bite down directly into one.

I don’t remember how long the “pounding” step took—Jessica took care of that part, using the large mortar from my Thai mortar and pestle.

Some of the reviewers complain that the recipe was too salty but we used the whey version and I didn’t find them overly salty at all.  I made my own whey by adding lemon juice to 3 cups of whole milk and letting it separate and filter through cheese cloth. But 3 cups of whole milk yielded way (whey?) too much whey.  I think I ended up with 2 cups of whey , and the recipe only calls for 1/4 cup.  I used the rest of the whey and the resulting paneer in a dish of saag, but if you don’t want extra whey you could probably just start with 1/3 or 1/2 cup of milk.

After three days we tasted the carrots and they were quite crunchy.  I was surprised.  I thought after three days soaking in that liquid the carrots would have softened up.  Maybe it’s because I used the largest grating blade on my food processor, which is quite large—larger than the typical coarse holes on a box grater for instance.

What can you eat the carrots on?  First of all, they’re nice just as a side dish/accompaniment to whatever you’re eating.  They go great on sandwiches, and I think they’d make a nice garnish for a bowl of soup or a bowl of pinto or black beans (kind of like the pickled carrots you often get in a Mexican restaurant).  I really enjoyed the carrots on the Autumn latkes that I made. They were a nice substitute for the sourness of sour cream (especially since I don’t like sour cream).  Carrots on carrot pancakes might seem like overkill, but I think the freshness of the fermented carrots actually complemented the more earthy, savory, oily pancakes nicely.

I think we started out with a bit more than 4 cups of grated carrots, but after three days we definitely had less than a quart of fermented carrots.  Jessica and I split it and I could have easily finished mine off in a few days, but I was trying to save some for Derek to try.  

To get the most out of the beta carotene in (these, and any) carrots, eat them with something that has some fat.  I would hope that most vegetarians are getting plenty of beta carotene, but if you don’t eat a cup of cooked dark green leafy greens or 1/2 cup of cooked dark orange veggies then you are probably not getting enough.

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